17 June 2020

Our Monthly Cycle & Our Hormones

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How our hormones affect us during the monthly cycle

Have you ever really followed your monthly cycle?? Many women don’t.  They don’t think of it except for maybe knowing they are coming on as they are eating more or getting very irritable or getting very bloated.  However, have you ever actually thought or wondered WHY this is so?  Read this blog and it may well encourage you to start a 4-weekly cycle journal!  It is fascinating & really should be taken notice of if you are peri-menopausal!

Who actually knows what is going on and WHY we are eating much more and WHY we may have less energy or may find a run really hard at a certain time of the month?  Did you know that at certain times of the month you will burn more calories than at other times of the month?

So the easiest thing to do is to explain the hormone cycle and how it affects our body, our mood, what we crave or what we need to do. The 3 main hormones that we have fluctuating in our bodies through the month are: Oestrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone.  Here are some of the symptoms and effects of the hormones during a 28 day cycle:

Week 1 – day 1 – 7 of your period – Oestrogen rises

As soon as we come on, 1st day of our period basically oestrogen slowly begins to rise, whereas progesterone and testosterone stay low.  Whilst all these hormones on day 1 & 2 are low we are often sluggish, may have a sore tummy, back ache & generally feel rubbish!!

Oestrogen is at it’s lowest on days 1 & 2 though for some it kicks in quicker than for others.  Once it begins to kick in the benefits start during the 1st week:

  • More energy & motivation
  • More positive mood & more patience
  • Feeling more sociable, optimistic and ready for getting out and about more
  • Interestingly, your memory starts to improve – its  a good time for learning as you can absorb more facts
  • Your libido improves
  • Exercising – do more muscle strengthening exercises as the rising oestrogen helps you build muscle easier & faster
  • Increasing oestrogen may also slightly suppress your appetite – you may find you eat smaller portions??
  • For those with asthma, eczema or irritable bowel syndrome – keep an eye on symptoms – they could be worse at the beginning of your period, as the oestrogen kicks in they begin to improve!

Nutrition is important in the 1st week.  If you can eat more iron based foods to replenish the iron lost in your period that can help energy and lack of motivation.

Week 2 – days 8 – ovulation (day 14) – Oestrogen & Testosterone rise & peak

All the good stuff in week 1 build and continue getting better as we go through week 2.  Your thinking is clearer so you may feel more focused.  Here are more interesting facts for the 2nd week of your cycle:

  • Oestrogen triggers better pain-masking endorphins in the brain – so book your leg wax or dental appointment for this week!
  • Your co-ordination is better this week & you react to things quicker
  • Notice if you feel better about yourself – more accepting and feel thinner or more attractive!
  • Oestrogen continues to help your appetite & research has shown we eat less when we ovulate & are more motivated to eat healthier options or reach nutrition goals!
  • However, aim for more meditation, yoga or more gentle exercises as oestrogen can trigger more stress and anxiety at this time for some women.
  • Exercise – carry on lifting weights or doing body weight exercises in week 2 as you build more muscle mass – also helped by the increase in testosterone.
  • Testosterone boosts your libido even more as you near the end of week 2

Week 3 – Day 15 – 22 – Oestrogen & testosterone drop & Progesterone rises

Well really this week is split in 2 as you get a real drop in oestrogen and testosterone in the 1st part of this week but then towards the end of week 3 oestrogen rises a bit again.

At the beginning of the week with a sudden drop in oestrogen you may suddenly feel ‘low’ and get some PMS symptoms.  Look out for any sudden irritability or moodiness!  Do you then feel a bit better as you get nearer to the end of your 3rd week again as your oestrogen rises?

Here are typical symptoms and some facts about your cycle in week 3 when progesterone starts to rise:

  • Are you more cautious & feel you slow down a bit?
  • Do you feel more tired and have less energy?  Due to progesterone this is your most fatigued week.
  • If you are more sensitive to progesterone then you may find you are more teary or sad.
  • You may be craving more high calorie foods & you feel more hungry so you are eating more generally.
  • If you are trying to watch your weight, be careful not to eat too little as your blood sugar levels drop, which may lead you to suddenly feeling moody or very down. If so, when you feel hungry – eat, rather than leave it and feel your mood deteriorate.
  • A good thing in week 3 of your cycle – you can BURN 30% MORE FAT at this time of the month, when exercising.  This is because Oestrogen & Progesterone are more level, hence they are more efficient at using fat for fuel.
  • However, as progesterone is the hormone which prepares your body for ‘pregnancy’ it slows your digestion down so your body absorbs your nutrients better – but you can get more constipation and more bloating/water retention.
  • If you do more cardio this month then having hormones which are more level can help get rid of the water retention through sweat.

Week 4 of your monthly cycle (days 23 – 28) – all hormones in decline

As many of you will probably know, this is not the best week of your cycle as you are coming up to your period.  Of course we are all different and some of you may not get PMS or feel much different, whereas others are definitely ‘pre-menstrual’.  This is because Oestrogen and Progesterone are on way down, they fall during this week.  If however you eat as well as you can in this week and try and get more sleep it can help your mood.

Here are the effects of falling hormones:

  • Maybe you are more critical, pessimistic & be a bit more negative – notice this at all? This is down to the big fall in oestrogen.
  • You may be more wary of new things and stick to what you know – less adventurous?
  • You may get more energy again this week, as progesterone falls.
  • You keep burning up to 30% more fat during cardio exercise during the 1st 4 or 5 days of this week!
  • Do you crave more carbohydrates at this time?  Due to falling oestrogen it means the mood-moderating serotonin in the brain is dragged down.  Carbs help replenish the serotonin.
  • You may still feel more hungry and still want foods higher in fat at the start of the week, before progesterone starts to fall too much.

So there you have it.  I find all of this fascinating and I wish I had known more when I had periods.  I can not recommend enough, for you to start a ‘4 weekly cycle diary‘ especially if you are nearing the peri-menopause.  It will really help you notice when you are becoming peri- menopausal and help you deal with the changes better.

In all my research I have taken this info from a very good and interesting website – myhormonology.com so have a look as they have lots of educational facts.

 

 

 

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